NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) –– The Banned Wagon Tour, driven by Penguin Random House and others, stopped at the Baldwin & Co. bookstore in New Orleans Thursday morning to raise awareness about book bans in American schools.

The Banned Wagon Tour is distributing free copies of banned or challenged books to communities across the South from Oct. 1 to 7 during the annual Banned Books Week celebration.

DJ Johnson, owner of Baldwin & Co., said they got involved in the festival “to celebrate the power of reading.” But he expressed a concern over increased censorship. “The attack on education, the censorship on education, is an attack on a free society,” Johnson said. “Right now, there’s forty-one states that have legislation banning books, particular books on LGBTQ and black culture. So we will not stand by and allow the government to continue to censor and oppress us.”

Several buses full of kids stopped by the bookstore. Attendees were given a complimentary book and encouraged to browse the selection within the bookstore. They also learned about censorship and enjoyed food and live music.

“We’ve had over 600 kids registered [for the event], and we’re estimated to have well over close to 800 kids,” Johnson shared. “I always tell people to read the books they don’t want you to read because that’s where all the fun stuff is at.” 

Penguin Random House, one of the driving forces behind the Banned Wagon Tour, is currently taking legal action against book bans in various states. Their goal is to protect the freedom to read and spark conversations about the societal impact of book bans.

Baldwin & Co. is located at 1030 Elysian Fields Ave. and is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 

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